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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops 8/8/17
Crossing the Mississippi River into Memphis Tennessee we saw a huge pyramid which is now a Bass Pro Shops Store. We stopped in for a visit and break from our trip.


Today we are leaving the Nashville area where we spent the night after a long drive from western Arkansas. Last night Brooksyne visited with her niece who lives in Nashville. Today we head toward home with an early start for a long trip to West Virginia where we will visit the New River Bridge and Gorge before heading home on Thursday. We do not expect to post another message till Friday from home. Due to travel we will not be preparing the daily podcast till we return home.

Message summary: Wherever we are today let us continue with our mission of preaching and persuading as we are compelled by Christ's love.

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15). "Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'" (Acts 26:28). "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:11). "For Christ's love compels us" (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Last week we visited Voice of the Martyrs headquarters in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Voice of the Martyrs
focus their ministry on the persecuted church. We shared a message about that visit here. We normally think of persecution in regard to imprisonment, confiscation of property, physical harm and death.

However there is another form of persecution that has an appeal among many. On the surface it may seem acceptable as a way of keeping the peace. Some countries, most notably Muslim and Hindu, impose anti-conversion laws which restrict evangelism activity striking at the very core of the Great Commission.

Several years ago a reporter and photographer were kidnapped in the Middle East and finally freed when they feigned conversion to Islam. What an incredible contrast this reveals between the two largest faith systems in the world today.  Among the root causes of terrorism is a goal to "convert", by any means, including force the rest of the world to the Islamic religion.

Christians have a similar goal but the methodology is not force but persuasion. Any notion of forced conversion has never had a place in legitimate Christianity as established by our Lord and demonstrated in the early New Testament church, although sadly through the church age there have been individuals or groups that have been forceful. However this was never God's design as taught in the Holy Scriptures.

Consider the very perverse nature of what are known as anti-conversion laws. What a blessing genuine freedom of religion is. We think of it likely in the sense of freedom to attend church but it's much more than that. What a blessing it is that we can choose to follow Christ or choose not to follow Christ. We are free to seek to persuade people to follow Christ and others are equally free to persuade otherwise.

The great commission of Jesus Christ to His church is "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15).  Our call is to seek to persuade others to this way of life as is also the ambition of any worldview.  For example secular humanism is seeking to convert others to its outlook on life.

The issue is not the desire we have that others share our beliefs but rather the means of how we seek to convert. In Christianity it's by our persuasion. We can't force someone to become a Christian, since it involves transformation from the inside out initiated by a decision to believe and follow Christ.

Today in virtually every region of the world there are followers of Jesus Christ preaching this good news, praying for converts, even as they seek to persuade them to follow Christ. There are scores of followers who are expressing the love of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion accompanied by a verbal witness. Dedicated Christian believers in many parts of the world who share God's love are imprisoned and their lives are imperiled. Their crime: merely witnessing for Christ.

The apostle Paul provides such a powerful example for us in this regard. He had at one time been an ardent persecutor of the followers of Christ, but after his conversion everything changed. He himself took on the great commission as he sought to persuade people to believe on the crucified and living Christ and become Christians. In Acts 26 Paul was sharing his faith with Agrippa when he responded, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" Paul's response should be ours as well; "Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

Wherever we are today let us continue with our mission of preaching and persuading as we are compelled by Christ's love.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, thank you for the freedom we have to share our faith. We seek to persuade others to follow You by showing that this all-surpassing power that guides our lives day in and day out is not from us but from Your Spirit who dwells within us. Your love compels us to reach out toward others to share the love of Christ in our conversations and show the love of Christ through our actions. Help us to be faithful in doing so.  Amen.

Here is a sample prayer that expresses belief and commitment to Jesus Christ: "Jesus, thank you for loving me.  I confess that I am a sinner. I believe You are the promised Messiah who came to die for my sins.  Please forgive me of my sins and come into my life. I receive You as my Savior and will follow You as my Lord. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer.  Amen".

Some Scenes From Our Journey

Arkansas mountain view 8/7/17
My grandparents 200 acre farm is on table land with many beautiful vista views.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

When Grandma and Grandpa Sherrell went to be with Jesus they divided the 200 acres among their six children. Mom and Dad erected a cabin on their acreage which was 180 miles from their home in Tulsa. Daddy took an early retirement so they spent several years fixing up and enjoying their home away from home before they died in their mid sixties due to cancer.

Arkansas mountain pond 8/7/17
As a child I, along with my siblings and cousins, enjoyed fishing and swimming in this clear mountain pond on Grandpa's farm.

Arkansas flowers and cattle 8/7/17
A bed of flowers on Uncle Carroll's property!

Uncle Carroll on tractor 8/7/17
Now that Uncle Carroll has retired from his chicken farm business (Tyson Chicken is a very large employer in the surrounding area), he spends much of his time brushhogging. That's just what he was doing when we caught up with him on Monday morning. If you look carefully you'll see the fencing at the top of the pasture that he erected to load his cattle when preparing to sell them. About three years ago he was loading a 2000 pound bull that somehow fenced him in. He was brutally attacked and would likely have died if his wife had not come upon the situation and opened the gate to release the bull. He was in the hospital and required plastic surgery to repair his very torn up face. He still suffers vertigo from the frightening ordeal. Carroll was my dad's favorite little brother (his only one), and he always looked forward to visiting him when we'd visit the mountain in AR.

Oark General Store 8/7/17
Later we enjoyed a good meal at the
Oark General Store

Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops GMC truck 8/8/17
Ester rode an elevator to the top of the pyramid and took photos of Memphis. It is the tallest free-standing elevator in the USA.

Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops 8/8/17
We sure hope she was holding her camera tight as she reached out to take this photo looking down! Notice the Bass Pro sign on the side of the pyramid.

I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River from Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops 8/8/17
I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River from Memphis Pyramid

Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops interior 8/8/17
The inside of the pyramid, which had been built as a civic arena, was huge. They also built a hotel inside.

Memphis Pyramid, Bass Pro Shops GMC truck 8/8/17
There was plenty of space for displays such as this old GMC truck.

Bass Pro Shops alligator 8/8/17
The first Bass Pro Shop we've ever visited with live alligators!

Train engine at Casey Jones museum 8/8/17
Our final break before heading into Nashville yesterday was a visit to the Casey Jones museum in Jackson TN. Do you remember the story and folk song? Video

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Tell Them"  Video  Andrae Crouch & The Disciples

"Go Ye Therefore"  Video  Leon Patillo

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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